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House Approves Bill Limiting Governor's Public Health Order Powers

Nov 19, 2020

Credit coronavirus.ohio.gov

The Ohio House has approved a bi-partisan bill that pushes back on Governor Mike DeWine's authority to shut down businesses in a future health order.

But the Governor is also pushing back. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

The bill would allow businesses to stay open if they’re following safety protocols, and that they're essential no matter the size.

It aims to stop a statewide shutdown like the one at the start of the pandemic in March, which was designed to keep people at home and not interacting with others with certain exceptions, to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On the floor, Republican Representative Jon Cross  took on the criticism that the bill was being rushed through on the first voting session of lame duck, saying it was introduced in May. 

“We have had nine months. How much longer do we need to figure this out? Ohio is done waiting,” said Cross.

But Democratic Representative Kristin Boggs fired back that the pandemic is constantly changing, and that she wanted time to confer again with constituents after nearly a month of record cases and hospitalizations.

“And I would have appreciated the opportunity to give them that breathing room,” Boggs said.

Though there was some spirited debate, A provision to pass the bill as emergency legislation failed, but the measure was approved on the floor 75-11.

Not long afterward, Governor Mike DeWine was holding his fifth press conference of the day as he toured Ohio cities to talk about his 10pm-5am COVID curfew. And he said he’d veto the bill, calling it “horribly misguided”. 

“This is a direct attack on public health. It’s a direct attack on the safety of the people of the state of Ohio. It’s very sad. It’s very, very sad,” said DeWine.

The bill passed with more than a veto proof majority. It takes 60 votes to override a veto in the House and 20 in the Senate, where the bill now goes.

Lawmakers have introduced several bills to limit the power of DeWine and his health director, and he’s vetoed one that passed.